This is one of the few fantasy books I’ll read this year; this one was recommended by our younger daughter, who read it in one sitting when at our house over the Christmas holiday. It is slow going at the beginning, with a lot of characters with unusual names to figure out. By the end (528 pages later) I really enjoyed all those characters and even their names.
The book particularly follows four different characters, each from a different affected country in an imagined post colonial world, including the ruling, victorious one. And because the author is refreshingly Asian, the flair of those countries are as well. The author made me care about the characters, which shows good writing, but also irritatingly repetitively overused words like “ruefully,” so maybe some better editing would have helped.
The “world-building” here is good, and other than the deeply drawn characters, this is what makes the novel compelling. I found the “steel pacting” and “shade pacting” interesting, as well as the concept of a “splinter soul.” Each country depicted also has a clear individual essence, with attendant biases and misconceptions of each other that needs to be overcome for peace to reign, and the best way to do that is to actually get to know each other.
There was a bit too much fighting in Steel Crow Saga – written a bit like an action film in places– for me to give this more than four stars. However, if you have patience enough to get into it, you’ll be glad you read it, and everything all does work out well in the end.